Nkosilathi Sibanda, Sunday News Correspondent
DOMESTIC tourism is headed for a boom in Umzingwane District and Bulawayo as hotel operators and homeowners are anticipating brisk business during the Zanu-PF National People’s Conference to be held in Esigodini next month.
More than 5 000 delegates are expected at the conference that will run from 11-17 December at Mzingwane High School.
Authorities in the tourism sector have urged the business community around Esigodini to take advantage of big functions such as the Zanu-PF People’s Conference.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Innocent Manyera said the conference will make better operators’ earnings for December.
He said events attracting large crowds must be a push factor for investors to fund conference and meeting facilities that are permanent.
“Mega events like the Zanu-PF People’s Conference have a natural multiplier effect to the hospitality sector. It is a blessing for Esigodini to host such a function. The history of destinations that host such big functions will never be the same as there are a lot of benefits to be derived. For Esigodini, the hospitality and other tourism packages in the area will receive some marketing,” said Mr Manyera.
He said although hotels in Bulawayo will get the bigger chunk of business in accommodation, private homeowners are geared for returns as well.
“An opportunity beckons for homeowners in the nearby areas to the venue. Some delegates prefer private houses and this is an opportunity, especially for registered houses. The conference will leave Esigodini with gross domestic happiness which is a complete package for all stakeholders involved such as farmers, including those in small-scale agriculture, retailers, event companies, churches and schools,” he said.
In previous editions of the conference, host districts have benefited a lot in tourism aligned activities. It has been noted that in most cases small to medium enterprises have had a share of the business boom.
“We have seen the legacy benefits of hosting the event in Victoria Falls, Chinhoyi, Masvingo and other areas. The conference means a lot to tourism because of the huge numbers attending. There is bound to be an upgrade of the road network with accommodation providers upgrading their facilities. Small to medium business will benefit through lots of revenue prior and post the conference. There is also employment creation to be expected,” he said.
Although Esigodini has not much domestic activity being marketed, delegates can visit some attractions around the areas such as the Umzingwane Recreational Park on the environs of Umzingwane Dam.
At the site, tourists will have an opportunity to partake in bird watching, wildlife sighting and up their adrenalin levels in water sports such as angling and boating. There is also Lumene Falls which is one of Esigodini’s well known tourist sites.
Esigodini also presents an insightful educational tour to visitors to other water supply dams to Bulawayo that include Upper and Lower Ncema.
The conference will be held under the theme ‘‘Zimbabwe is open for business: In unity and peace towards an upper middle income economy by 2030’’.